Monday, February 18, 2008

Banner Ridge II

Whew! Went snowshoeing again yesterday. Sunnier, warmer, and obviously more people had been on the trails recently than last time. There hasn't been a lot of new snow recently, so the trees were mostly bare and high-traffic areas were crusted over. It's a harder to walk on a crusted broken surface than deep powder in snowshoes. Your feet slip around on the snowshoe and you can't always break through the crust to make a level surface on each step.

We went to the same parking area on Banner Ridge but took different trails, Elkhorn and Twister. Have to say I enjoyed the ridge trail, the one we did last time, more. That took you up to a nice viewpoint and then along the ridge. This was fun though, in that we went off-trail more and got to wade through some deep snow. We found a hillside where we could sit in the sun and eat our lunch; potato-rosemary bread, Capitool Pyrenees sheep cheese, and a little bottle of merlot. Amazing how good food can be when you've been working hard outside in cold air.

I rented a different kind of snowshoes this time, Atlas. They were an aluminum tube with plastic webbing in the middle. Reminded me of a catamaran. They had spurs on the bottom for grip, which was a big help. Sort of like the running shoe of snowshoes. The bindings were great, held perfectly with no slipping. Ken wasn't so lucky. Halfway through our hike the toe binding on one of his broke, so he had to use a piece of rope. Always bring rope when you're snowshoeing. Wading back through the deep snow without snowshoes from where we were then would have taken hours.

On the other hand, the ones I wore did NOT float over the snow nearly as well as Ken's. Mostly because they were smaller and narrower. So in some areas he was walking over the surface while I was breaking through on every step, like walking uphill in deep sand. Still, I could run better. That was fun. It's like I imagine running on the moon would be. You take giant strides, but you can't feel your feet impacting the ground. They just sink into the snow and slow down until you take another step.

My legs are more sore this time than they were last time, but the aches are where they should be, so that's ok. I didn't get any weird pains around my knees because of strain or walking badly. That's the skill in snowshoeing (if there is one) - you have to train yourself to walk as normally as possible. It's tempting to walk with your knees pointed out, your legs wide apart, or some other strange ways, but eventually odd muscles in isolated parts of your hips or legs start to complain. Sooner or later you get tired enough that you begin to walk almost as you would without snowshoes on, and things get much easier.

Next weekend we have two music gigs, in Cascade and McCall. One is a Girl Scout thing, they want to learn some Scottish dances for their International Day. The other is an contra dance at a hall in Cascade. Then we'll stay over with some fiddle friends. Most of the band will be there too, so there'll be a jam most of the night.

Today is a holiday from work, so I'll be doing some chores around the house, and perhaps heading off to the Mall or bookstore later. Happy Pres. Day everyone!

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